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EE 4G in the UK: what you need to know

Everything you need to know about 4G mobile broadband in the UK

EE, formally Everything Everywhere, has switched on its 4G mobile network in the UK today so we're here to answer all your burning questions. Updated on 21/11/12

The UK has been waiting a long time for 4G to arrive and it's finally upon us and you're sure to have many questions relating to it. We’ve put this article together to explain what 4G is, how it works and how it will affect you. See also: Everything Everywhere launches 4G in UK with new brand.

4G smartphone

Here's our FAQ for everything 4G but if you have further questions, feel free to post them in the comments section below.

EE 4G in the UK: What is 4G?

4G stands for the fourth generation mobile network. In short, it is faster mobile broadband internet for devices like smartphones.

EE 4G in the UK: When will it launch?

The 4G network has been switched on today, but only for testing and isn’t available for the general public to use yet. EE will launch the service to the public on 30 October.

EE 4G in the UK: Where will it launch?EE 4G cities

Testing is taking place in London, Cardiff, Bristol and Birmingham and these will be the first cities to get 4G in the UK. A total of 16 cities will have 4G live by Christmas; see below for the full list.

Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Nottingham, Newcastle, Sheffield and Southampton.

Beyond this EE said it will reach 70 percent of the UK by the end of 2013 and 98 percent by the end of 2014.

To register your interest head to www.ee.co.uk

EE 4G in the UK: How fast will the network be?

EE uses 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology which has a theoretical speed of 100Mbps. However, the typical average speed to expect will be between 8Mbps and 12Mbps. EE said the typical maximum speed and peak speed are 40Mbps and 64Mbps, respectively. In our test we saw various speeds between 12Mbps and 41Mbps.

See also: 4G vs 3G network hands-on speed test

EE 4G in the UK: Will there be any data limits or traffic shaping?

The data plans on offer start at £36 per month for 500MB of data. All tariffs include unlimited calls and text messages with the most expensive costing £56 for 8GB of data. See the below table for all the available plans. EE has confirmed with us that there will be no traffic shaping.

Users who already own a 4G smartphone can get a SIM-only data plan but £15 cheaper, bar the 8GB plan which isn’t available. EE's SIM-only deals are based on a 12 month contract.

EE 4G data plans

EE 4G in the UK: Is EE replacing Orange and T-Mobile?

No, EE is a new brand which will operate alongside Orange and T-Mobile which will remain as brands and retailers in their own right but there will be some changes.

EE Orange T-Mobile logos

They will all use the EE network and therefore smartphones will display 'EE' instead of 'Orange' or 'T-Mobile' by Christmas. All existing Orange and T-Mobile stores will also be rebranded to EE and will serve customers of all three brands.

EE 4G in the UK: What happens if I'm an Orange or T-Mobile customer?

You can remain as an Orange or T-Mobile customer as per usual but you won't be able to use 4G. EE has said it will make it 'easy and straightforward' to move to EE to take advantage of the 4G network.

EE 4G in the UK: Will my current phone work with the 4G network?

Unless you have bought a 4G capable phone recently, the answer is unfortunately no. Since existing smartphones and tablets with mobile internet capabilities use 3G technology, they won't be compatible with EE's 4G network.

However, if you're within the first six months of a contract with an Apple iPhone 4S, Samsung Galaxy S3 or HTC One X, EE will let you trade it in for a 4G version for £99.

EE 4G in the UK: What 4G capable smartphones and devices will I be able to buy?

EE has announced the following smartphones will be available on its network but we have no specific launch dates more specific than they will be available this year. Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE, HTC One XL, Nokia Lumia 820 LTE, Nokia Lumia 920 LTE and Huawei Ascend P1 LTE.

EE 4G smartphones and devices

On top of these will be the Huawei E589 Mobile Wi-Fi and Huawei E392 MBB Stick (a USB dongle). You can connect these to existing devices like smartphones, tablet and laptops via USB or Wi-Fi to utilise the EE 4G network without needing to upgrade the device itself.

EE 4G in the UK: Will the iPhone 5 work with 4G?

As we predicted, the iPhone 5 will work on EE's 4G network since its chip supports the 1800MHz spectrum. EE hasn't announced its pricing for the iPhone 5 yet. See also: iPhone 5 UK price and mobile network round-up.

It's worth noting that the iPhone 5 won't work with some rival 4G networks in the UK. O2 and Vodafone will be bidding for 4G spectrum in Ofcom's upcoming auction, but the 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrums on offer do not match the iPhone 5's 4G specification. Three has an agreement with EE to eventually use the iPhone 5 compatible 1800MHz spectrum.

Read: iPhone 5 won't support O2 or Vodafone 4G networks

EE 4G in the UK: Will the new iPad work on 4G?

In short the answer is no. EE uses the 1800MHz spectrum for its 4G while the latest iPad, or iPad 3 uses 700MHz and 2100MHz so won’t be compatible. The iPad 4, or iPad with Retina display does support 4G in the UK.

Follow Chris Martin and @PCAdvisor on Twitter.

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